6 Common Habits of Chronically Unhappy People

The pursuit of happiness is inherently built into our very DNA.


The pursuit of happiness is inherently built into our very DNA.

Psychologists Ed Diener and Shigehiro Oishi from the University of Illinois and Virginia respectively, undertook a study of what people value the most in life. They took over 10,000 participants from 48 countries and discovered that people rated happiness as being more important than anything else in life, including; possessions, wealth, going to heaven/afterlife.

Surely as a species that has been on this planet for thousands of years, we humans must have been able to ‘crack the code?’ Happiness, like most emotions, is built on habit. The things we do, the company we keep and the choices we make are all linked to this desire to feel happy.

We often confuse pleasure with happiness. Where pleasure involves the short-term release of endorphins and happiness is the slightly longer-term mental state that we perceive to be in (because after all, our whole world is built on perception). For example: committing adultery may provide instant pleasure, but may result in reduced happiness due to consequences.

“The difference between a happy and unhappy life is how often and how long we stay there.” Tamara Star, Life-Coach

Some may argue that those who always seem to be happy, are either hiding something from their peers or completely oblivious to situations happening around them. But we can also find those who are chronically unhappy.

Everybody has good days and bad days, but for people who are chronically unhappy, they have managed to master certain traits that have (through habit) become ingrained in behaviour and thought processes drastically changing peoples lives.

Here are 6 qualities of chronically unhappy people:

1. You believe that life is meant to be hard

Unhappy people often see themselves as ‘The Victim.’ When life throws a curve-ball, those with a negative outlook are more likely to expect bad things to happen. Often seeing any problem (no matter how small) as something that cannot be overcome.

“What you think is a problem, is an opportunity for growth” Anonymous

Happy people tend to be better at perseverance with all aspects of life. They are able to take hits in their life, but crucially they get back up again. The attitude of happy people is more about curiosity and the ability to take responsibility for how they get themselves into situations (both good and bad).

2. You focus on what’s wrong with things

There is also plenty of things that are wrong with the world, and possibly your own life. Unhappy people will constantly focus on what is wrong, picking things apart and use the phrase “yes, but…” all too often.

We are all going to die, that is a fact (currently). One of the things that happy people are good at doing is using perspective. Living in the present and seeing the bigger picture (as well as the smaller picture) is a great skill. Hindsight is easy, as you are looking back on the past, but perspective is much more effective and vital for happiness.

In 2007, Psychologists Todd Kashdan and Michael Steger studied the effects of participants who monitored their own daily activities for 21 days, as well as how they felt. The participants who frequently felt curious on a given day increased their overall satisfaction with life and engaged with the highest number of happiness-inducing activities such as volunteering.

3. You believe most people can’t be trusted

Trusting in people and their opinions can open doors to new friends and new life-experiences. Focussing on the good in people can allow you to be introduced into completely new communities. Although healthy discernment is obviously important, too much of it can be unhealthy.

Unhappy people may have a close-knit group of select friends, but not trusting others removes the possibility of new friendships and relationships being possible. Not wanting to trust others may be in part from past experiences or worried about the future (i.e. being let down). Both are purely guesses, as statement 6 points out.

You may have certain friends that may not be the best at time-keeping and are always late, it doesn’t mean that they can’t be trusted to be the best friend that they can possibly be to you.

4. You are jealous of others

Unhappy people are prone to jealousy. Jealousy can be in the form of just plain envy, a feeling deep down inside of you that you badly want something that someone else has. You might be jealous of someone’s clothes, car or house.

Jealousy is linked to not having the confidence in your own ability to be able to get that particular thing, or not being willing to put in the required time or effort to reach that particular goal.

Technology has shifted over the past few years into an ‘On demand Economy,’ where we expect things to be available to us instantly and cheaply. But, when we look at those that we are jealous of or aspire to be like, there is often a lot of hidden hard work and years of perseverance, something that anybody can embody.

Instead of being jealous, admire. It is exactly the same focus of fascination with a person, just positive instead of negative.

5. Your goal is to be in complete control of your life

When we set goals we do them because we want to achieve them, but we cannot control everything

Happy people have a Plan A, which may consist of goals that they are striving to achieve but when the s**t hits the fan, they have a Plan B, that usually consists of going with the flow. Having a realistic view of control over your life is helpful. Unfortunately, wanting to control your own life often seeps out into wanting to control those around you, so that they fit into your own plans.

Unhappy people are prone to micromanaging, over-thinking and de-constructing almost everything in their lives. Whilst this can occasionally be helpful to gain this kind of insight, not only is it tiring and anti-social, it is also unrealistic about how much control we truly have over our lives.

Unfortunately, wanting to control your own life often seeps out into wanting to control those around you, so that they fit into your own plans.

6. You are constantly worried about your future

Living in the future creates just as vacant an experience as living in the past. Unhappy people are prone to becoming stuck. Unable to move forward with their lives for the fear that “what if…” something occurs, then what do I do?

Predictions and plans are merely guesses, you can’t predict the future. You can’t control the future, but you can influence things in your present that can make certain predictions more likely to happen.

For Example: Sports betting has been around since before the Egyptian civilisation. When a good team plays a bad team, the odds are stacked in favour of the better team, why? Because they have better players who have practised and proven before that they are statistically better. If we were certain on the outcome, betting would not exist.

If you live in the future you risk missing out on the best time of your life…now!

Unhappy v.s. Happy

We all have good days, bad days, in-between days, non-days, worst days ever, best days ever providing ourselves with our own roller-coaster adventure. It is not realistic to believe that we will be happy all the time, but there are certain traits that become habits that seem to become parts of our personality that we can prevent leading us down a path of chronic unhappiness.

Though it may have been the goal of thousands, there can only be one President/Prime Minister of a country at any given time. Sometimes we have to accept that our perfect life-story isn’t panning out the way we had hoped. But instead of being frozen in anxiety and fear, take the phrase “better luck next time” with humility and persevere.

We may not all be destined to be remembered as a hero of mankind 500 years from now, but we are all hero’s of our own story, with the tools to make it our best life ever (which is advisable as we only get one).

Paul Davies writes about the search for living a happier and healthier life. For more ideas and easy systems you can implement to change your life then join his free newsletter.


Originally published at ithinklots.com.

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